Wisconsin health officials are urging residents to forgo one holiday tradition this year: “cannibal sandwiches.”
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services said people who consume the raw meat sandwiches, also known as “tiger meat,” are at risk of contracting salmonella, E. coli and other bacteria.
“For many #Wisconsin families, raw meat sandwiches are a #holiday tradition, but eating raw meat is NEVER recommended because of the bacteria it can contain,” the department tweeted on Saturday. “Ground beef should always be cooked to 160 degrees!”
The department added that it didn’t matter where consumers bought their meat.
The Midwestern dish is made up of ground raw beef typically seasoned with spices and onions and served on bread, according to the Wisconsin Historical Society.
The sandwiches are traditionally served as an appetizer at holiday parties or other festive gatherings in the Milwaukee region, the organization said.
Justin Carlisle, a James Beard-nominated chef at Ardent restaurant in Milwaukee, told NBC News that while the exact history of the dish is unknown, many believe the sandwiches could be traced to “Scandinavian or northern European settlers” who migrated to the area.
Carlisle said he serves a version of the dish at his own restaurant.
“It’s a remnant of the original dish, a beef tartare — the dish is a kind of nostalgia connecting people here to the holiday traditions,” he said.
He added that people who were quick to judge the regional dish simply do not have to eat it.
“It’s been here for many, many years, and to any outsider it may seem foreign, but my grandfathers, great grandfathers and ancestors have been eating this forever,” he said.
According to the department, eight bacterial outbreaks linked to eating a raw ground beef dish have been reported in the state since 1986 — including a large salmonella outbreak in December 1994 that infected more than 150 people.